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Western Florence-Via Tornabuoni

Via Tornabuoni

Expensive but very glamorous. A paradise for shopping-lovers, this street is flanked with smart palazzos and chic Italian boutiques. The Tornabuoni family gave their name to this street.

The Palazzo Antinori has belonged to the same family for over 5 centuries. They are worldwide renowned wine producers and the owners of of the winery-cum-restaurant Cantinetta.
Loretta Caponi is to the left of the palace and it faces the Chiesa di San Gaetano built in the 17th century and accessible by enormous stone steps. Stroll a little further and you will reach Procacci, one of the city´s oldest food shops and a little café and wine bar.
A truly stunning Renaissance palace is Palazzo Strozzi, found after the lines of designer boutiques of both national and foreign labels. To the west of Via Tornabuoni are Via della Spada and Via della Vigna Nuova with a wider range of clothes shops.

Back on Via Tornabuoni, continue towards the Arno and you will see the Church of Santa Trinità, face to face with the 13th century Palazzo Spini-Feroni at Piazza Santa Trinità 2. It was commissioned by the wealthy merchant and banker Geri Spini and is at present Ferragamo´s headquarters and showroom. The label exhibits shoes, bags, garments and accessories on the ground floor. The Museo Salvatore Ferragamo is in the palazzo´s basement and is interesting for something a bit different. (tel. 0555 336 04 56; Via de ‘Tornabuoni 2; open 10am-6pm, closed Tue) It exhibits Ferragamo shoes, some of which fit the feet of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Sofia Loren. There is an audio guide available with the admission ticket showing visitors around the exhibits. Reproductions are sold in the museum shop.

The 15th century Palazzo Strozzi was commissioned by Filippo Strozzi, arch-enemy in the political arena and in trade to the Medici family (corner of Via de’Tornabuoni and Via degli Strozzi, opening and closing time depend on exhibition). It underwent refurbishment making it suitable for exhibitions open to the public. The palace is on three levels and was fortified to keep the Strozzi family safe as they had already been expelled from Florence and not very welcome. Fabulous exhibitions, a beautiful courtyard with a café make it a lovely place popular with all ages.

The British Institute of Florence (tel. 055 267 78 200; www.britishinstitute.it; Piazza Strozzi 2) offers highly reputed art history courses complete with visits to the places and pieces of study.